Problematising sovereignty: Why did humanitarian intervention fail in Libya and Syria?

Davids, Darren (2021-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Since its inception the United Nations (UN) has placed an increased focus on issues such as human rights and human security. This fact is underscored by the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 which states that everyone has the right to life. The United Nations highlights, in the first chapter of its Charter, its responsibility to uphold human rights, and the protection of the lives of people. However, the UN has apparently failed to uphold its commitment to protecting human rights during instances of war, genocide, and mass human suffering. Although the UN has intervened in previous crises during the 1990s, the UN has ostensibly been unable effectively to intervene during prominent armed conflicts such as the recent Libyan and Syrian crises. The main research question informing this study seeks to determine why the UN has been unable to find a consensus on humanitarian intervention through an interrogation of the Libyan and Syrian crises. The primary research question is supplemented by three sub- questions that aim to determine the following: (1) Does Westphalian sovereignty provide states with blanket protection from all external interference, even if they are responsible for gross human rights atrocities?; (2) Can the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) concept be ratified by the UN in order effectively to deal with the current problems facing humanitarian intervention?; (3) Should the UN and other major powers be allowed to exercise control of another state when its government no longer has any control over the country? The study uses the English School as a theoretical lens to understand the nature of sovereignty. Through the use of the English School, this study analyses the two main schools of thought regarding intervention, namely the solidarist and pluralist approaches. Findings suggest that while R2P has attempted to serve as the new consensus of humanitarian intervention, the language encompassing the R2P tool has been severely watered down since its original conception. R2P effectively acts as a guiding framework for how states ought to behave and outlines their responsibility without placing a legal obligation on members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to intervene. The Libyan and Syrian case studies reveal that intervention is largely driven by the self-interests of the permanent members of the UNSC. The Libyan intervention was largely driven by the geopolitical and economic interests of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Similarly, the UN finds itself in a protracted deadlock over the Syrian crisis due to clashing geopolitical concerns and interests of Russia and other permanent members of the UNSC.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Vanaf die begin van die 21ste eeu het die Verenigde Nasies (VN) 'n groter fokus op kwessies soos menseregte en menslike veiligheid geplaas. Hierdie feit word onderstreep deur die VN se aanvaarding van die Universele Verklaring van Menseregte wat bepaal dat almal die reg op lewe het. Die Verenigde Nasies beklemtoon in die eerste hoofstuk van sy Handves sy verantwoordelikheid om die menseregte te handhaaf en die beskerming van die lewens van mense. Die VN het egter klaarblyklik nie sy verbintenis tot die beskerming van menseregte tydens gevalle van oorlog, volksmoord en massale menselyding nagekom nie. Alhoewel die VN gedurende die negentigerjare by vorige krisisse ingegryp het, kon die VN klaarblyklik nie effektief ingryp tydens prominente gewapende konflikte soos die onlangse Libiese en Siriese krisisse nie. Die hoofnavorsingsvraag oor hierdie studie is om te bepaal waarom die VN nie 'n konsensus kon vind oor humanitere ingryping deur 'n ondervraging van die Libiese en Siriese krisisse nie. Die primere navorsingsvraag word aangevul deur drie subvrae wat daarop gemik is om die volgende te bepaal: (1) Bied Westfaliese soewereiniteit state beskerming teen alle eksterne inmenging, selfs al is hulle verantwoordelik vir die wreedhede van die menseregte? (2) Kan die Verantwoordelikheid om te Beskerm (R2P) -konsep deur die VN bekragtig word om die huidige probleme waarmee humanitere ingryping in die gesig staar effektief te hanteer ?; (3) Moet die VN en ander groot moondhede toegelaat word om beheer oor 'n ander staat uit te oefen as sy regering geen beheer meer oor die land het nie? Die studie gebruik die Engelse Skool as 'n teoretiese lens om die aard van soewereiniteit te verstaan. Deur die gebruik van die Engelse Skool ontleed hierdie studie die twee hoof denkrigtings rakende intervensie, naamlik die solidaristiese en pluralistiese benaderings. Bevindinge dui daarop dat hoewel R2P gepoog het om as 'n nuwe konsensus van humanitere ngryping te dien, die taal wat die R2P-instrument bevat sedert die oorspronklike konsep daarvan erg afgewater is. R2P dien effektief as 'n leidende raamwerk vir hoe state moet optree en gee hul verantwoordelikheid sonder om wettige verpligtinge op lede van die VN se Veiligheidsraad (VNSK) te plaas om in te gryp. Die Libiese en Siriese gevallestudies toon dat ingryping grootliks gedryf word deur die eiebelange van die permanente lede van die UNSC. Die Libiese ingryping is grootliks gedryf deur die geopolitieke en ekonomiese belange van die Verenigde State, die Verenigde Koninkryk en Frankryk. Net so bevind die VN hom in 'n langdurige dooiepunt oor die Siriese krisis weens botsende geopolitieke bekommernisse en belange van Rusland en ander permanente lede van die UNSC.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/123672
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